Show Jumping

Preschooler Lilly Ward Is Show Jumping’s Youngest Owner

Lilly Ward, the only known preschooler to own an international horse, celebrated her first victory of the winter season on Wednesday.

Ward’s rider, McLain, who also happens to share 50 percent of her genetic code, won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers at Week 2 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL aboard Bellefleur PS Z. The eight-year-old Zangersheide mare is co-owned by Lilly and Susan Heller, Ward’s godmother.

Nine of the 15 entries in the 1.45m speed class jumped clear, but none could best Ward and Bellefleur’s time in 60.497 seconds.

“She’s a phenomenal mare. She’s super careful, brave, really game, and she’s stepping up the levels nicely,” said the three-time Olympic medalist.

Ward’s victory in the class is his second in as many weeks. During Week 1 of WEF he won the same class with Hija van Strokapelleken, a horse owned by Jennifer Gates’ Evergate Stable LLC.

Unlike that first mount, however, Ward has no immediate plans to part with Bellefleur PS Z. In fact, co-owner Heller wrote it into the contract when they purchased the horse two years ago.

“The deal was Lilly had to be my owner so that I wouldn’t sell her,” explained Ward.

The Wards plan to keep building up Bellefleur’s experience, with the goal of competing in the 1.50m classes.

“It’ll be interesting to see how far she goes because she’s very game and everything we ask her to do, she seems to do really well,” said Ward.

Laura Chapot (USA) took the second and third in the results with Chandon Blue (in 60.606 seconds) and Out of Ireland (in 60.925 seconds).